ŌThey are going to brand desertersĶ
Wednesday, October 29th 1862
[letterhead of United States Capitol, printed Headquarters 146th RegÕt N York Vols., with a following word scratched out, then COMPANY with dots filled in by hand ÔA Capt ConeÕ]
Letter No. 10
I received your letter dated the 27 and I was glad to hear from you and that you was well. I am sorry that you feel so bad about me because I was not what you might call sick at all, only I felt kind of dead and that breaking out I had was pretty bad. I was so sore I could hardly touch anything without hurting me. But thank the Lord I am a great deal better so that I can begin to do something. Yesterday I and some others took quite a tramp. Our Regiment with about 14 more went down below Fort Albany on review and it was a splendid sight. I wish you on such an occasion be here. I know you would like to see so many men formed in line of battle. I saw them from Fort Albany and they look like a great mass of woods moving along. From there I went to Gen. LeeÕs house and from there down to the Potomac River and back to Camp again making in all about eight miles and I came toddling back tired and hungry enough.
You ask how I came to mail a letter in New York. I did not do it. I sent you a letter with some rose leaves in it from Gen. LeeÕs garden and I suppose they thought it was money and broke it open and found it wasnÕt and so mailed it over again. That must have been the way, I canÕt see any other.
We are going to HarperÕs Ferry next Friday to form the reserve Corps in the next battle which I hope will lick the rebels clean out and let us come home this winter. Our Col says he donÕt think we will see any fighting but if we do we will have to make the best of it. He has been offered two good places for this winter but he wonÕt accept nothing but the battlefield. All the boys think he wants to pay us off for the papers coming out on him so hard. There is plenty of good drilled men that are going to stay here this winter because they have got good Cols. The Fourth Oneida is in winter quarters now and are a going to stay here.
The sick men in our Regiment are all getting well except a few and them the doctor is a going to try to get their discharge this morning. You spoke about that white swelling on my hip but I am not going to have any I think. I or the doctors canÕt tell what did ail me. I suppose I shall have to stay here until the war is ended. If I could only come home once more I should feel willing to stay. You canÕt tell how hard it is to get away from here when once you get here. They are on the watch for deserters all the time. There is a guard stationed at every place where you start for and if you haint got a pass they arrest you immediately. They are going to brand deserters with a letter B on the forehead as a mark to carry through life. There is some I hear deserted from the Fourth Oneida and have been caught again which will be served the same by and by.
Write when you get this and let me now if they are a going to draft in Utica. All the drafted men are shoved ahead of Volunteers. I have had my picture taken today which I send to you. Look at it and see if I look much like a sick man and if you think I look as white and the same. Dear Clara I am tanned as a molato but my heart is as white as it used to be. Does Ida know where her pa is gone and does Willie grow any? Poor little [missing word]. I should not have left them and you the way I did but I didnÕt see so far then as I do now. The boys are coming back from review again today and I must close. So goodbye my dear wife till you hear from me again.
From yours the same as you saw me and knew me